Binoculars for eye glasses wearers & birding? Long eye relief + wided field of view + close focus

About 2 months ago I started wearing eye glasses for the first time in my life (progressive lenses) and now my preferred binoculars before glasses have too short of eye relief to use with my glasses and I do want binoculars that will work with my glasses - it’s too much of a pain to take the glasses off to use the binoculars.

17mm of eye relief appears not to be enough, at least not with the Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 binoculars that I received yesterday - an obviously reduced field of view with glasses on compared to the full 426’ without glasses.

Now I’m considering the Vanguard Spirit XF 8x42, which has 409’ field of view, 20mm eye relief and 6.5’ close focus for $159 from B&H.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I’d prefer to stay below $200, but would consider up to $300 for a better with-glasses bird viewing experience. Maybe a bit higher, if needed. I want accurate colors and crisp details.

There’s so much information out there that it’s really difficult to narrow it down and make any sense out of it.

There are plenty of excellent options for non-glasses wearers, but apparently pretty limited options for glasses wearers - at least for glasses that don’t sit close to the wearer’s eyes.

I’m also looking into the possibility of getting a second set of eye glasses that would have smaller lenses that fit closer to my eye, therefore requiring shorter eye relief on the binoculars and greatly increasing model options.

In addition to the 8x42 size, I’ll be looking for a more compact pair for travel that will work well with glasses and fairly will with bird/wildlife watching.


I can’t give specific recommendations on models, but I can suggest something else. Most modern binocs have built-in rubber cups around each eyepiece. Sometimes they can be rolled back, and sometimes not. I wear glasses, and I just cut those rubber cups right off. It makes a world of difference. Perhaps you’ve tried that and found it not to help enough on your own binocs, but it worked great on mine, and it’s worth mentioning.

Thanks for that suggestion.

I rolled down the rubber eye cups (same effect as cutting them off) on my 40 year old Focal 7x35 binoculars and that gives them a field of view a bit larger than many current options when I’m wearing my glasses, but they are not as bright as modern optics and I still lose a sizeable portion of my full field of view. Many newer binoculars have twist down eye cups, rather than rubber roll down eye cups. Many still use the roll down rubber eye cups.

Ah, the old “Focal” brand, from Kmart! Yes, regardless of your mentioning the comparison of those to “modern” optics, the quality of the Focal brand was poor. Lots of options, old or new, will be a step up from Focal.

My guess is that you get better eye relief with old-fashioned porro-prism binocs. That’s what my 10x50s are, and there’s eye relief a-plenty (once the rubber cups are out of the way). For what it’s worth, you also get much better quality in comparison to cost with the porro-prism style. I seem to recall that all of the various compact binocs that I’ve tried have had very limited eye relief in comparison, so that may be something that’s related to the basic design. Of course, my experience may not represent all the possibilities.

Actually, other than brightness, the Focal 7x35 with 525’ field of view compare pretty well with the modern units I’ve tried. Pretty crisp image and good contrast.

Not in your price range but have a look at Leica Trinovid 8x20s. Or step up a level to the Ultravid 8x20s (waterproof). I wear glasses and Leica has the best eye relief with sub-compacts.

I was pretty serious into birding for a few years and had a very expensive pair of Zeiss Victory 10x42s along with the compact 8x20 Trinovids. When I was really into it the weight penalty of walking around with the Zeiss on my neck was worth it. The Leica Trinovids were the ones I always left in the car for spur of the minute stuff. As I started to take the hobby less seriously I started leaving the Zeiss and home and carrying the little Leicas instead. Really good performance and good field of view (important) for such a compact size. The larger binoculars obviously give a more impressive picture but I really didn’t feel like I was giving up very much with the Leicas in terms of sharpness and color. Really nice little binoculars.

Finally sold the Zeiss Victories and used the money to buy a pair of 8x20 Leica Ultravids. I take them on canoe trips so the waterproofness is important and they have even better image quality.

You might be able to find a used pair of Trinovids in your price range.


Update after more experimenting the Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 and Pentax Papilion II 6.5x21 binoculars that I received two days ago is that I had misinterpreted the image reducing effect of my prescription progressive lenses with significant field of view reduction resulting from too-short of eye-relief on the binoculars. Further experimenting revealed that the field of view with both sets is just very slightly smaller with glasses than without glasses, but my glasses make the image look a bit smaller.

This was made apparent to me when I was working with the optician in the controlled environment of their office yesterday to try to identify a glasses frame with smaller lenses that could sit closer to my eye to reduce the eye relief required and the field of view through the binoculars remained constant with the different frames and was only slightly smaller with the glasses than without them.

The perceived field of view reduction is greater on the Papilion II 6.5x21 with only 15mm of eye relief than on the Trailseeker 8x42 with 17mm of eye relief, but is tolerable. The Papilion II, in both the 6.5x21 and 8.5 have a close up focus of just 1.5’, which is excellent for close up examination of insects, flowers or whatever as close arm’s length or even your own toes, as you relax in the recliner with nothing better to do.

In summary, regarding eye relief, it appears that 15mm is boderline adequate for me, but 17mm or longer is better for me. Some binocular models have eye relief up to 22mm, but that is quite rare. Compact binoculars tend to have shorter eye relief than mid size or full size, so finding compacts that are eyeglasses friendly takes a bit more effort.

The Transitions Extra Active auto-darkening treatment on my glasses also makes the image in the binoculars seem darker than the image without the glasses to whatever extent my lenses have darkened - these lenses always have a bit of tint, even inside.

When funds are available, I might get a pair of single vision (distance only) glasses without tint to use with binoculars, so the image through the binoculars with glasses will be just as bright and, presumably, a bit less soft at the edges than with the tinted progressive lenses.

Thanks for the input Guideboatguy and Alan_Gage.